Hochul signs legislation to spur energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Posted 5 July 2022 at 4:14 pm

NY will require prevailing wage for renewable energy projects 1 megawatt and larger that involve renewable energy credits from a public entity

Press Release, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Office

Photo from Governor’s Office: Governor Kathy Hochul touts a legislative package to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create green jobs. She is speaking at Newlab HQ at the Brooklyn Navy Yard Building 128.

Governor Kathy Hochul today signed a legislative package of three bills that will strengthen New York’s commitment to clean energy development and energy efficiency, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The Governor signed the bills at Newlab headquarters in Brooklyn alongside State Senator Kevin Parker, State Senator Jessica Ramos, Assemblymember Pat Fahy, Assemblymember Latoya Joyner, and key labor leaders and climate advocates.

These three new laws support the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act goal of an 85 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 while ensuring a just and equitable transition for New York workers and communities.

“The impacts of climate change are felt all over New York State, and in response we are taking bold action and building a stronger, more resilient New York by guaranteeing healthier, greener places to live and work,” Governor Hochul said. “Now more than ever, the importance of a cost-effective green transformation is clear, and strengthening building codes and appliance standards will reduce carbon emissions and save New Yorkers billions of dollars by increasing efficiency. This multi-pronged legislative package will not only replace dirty fossil fuel infrastructure, but it will also further cement New York as the national leader in climate action and green jobs.”

Greening New York’s building sector by investing in clean heating and cooling solutions presents the greatest prospect to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while realizing a unique workforce development opportunity. Earlier this year, the Climate Action Council’s Just Transition Working Group issued a Jobs Study that details the number of jobs that will be created as part of New York’s clean energy transition, and found the buildings sector accounted for well over half of all the jobs added in growing clean energy subsectors from 2019 to 2030.

The study estimates that overall employment in the buildings sector will grow to approximately 366,000 by 2040, more than doubling the 2019 workforce by adding over 200,000 new jobs. The legislative package signed today is one part of a holistic suite of policies and programs needed to drive decarbonization in the buildings sector at scale and realize these significant opportunities for near-, medium-, and long-term job growth.

Advanced Building Codes, Appliance and Equipment Efficiency Standards Act of 2022

• Legislation A.10439/S.9405 requires the New York State Energy Conservation Construction Code to be updated to achieve energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emission reductions in support of the Climate Act. Advanced energy codes could reduce ongoing energy bills, leading to nearly $4 billion in energy savings for building owners by 2030, with potential for even greater savings when factoring in recent inflation and energy cost increase trends.

Additionally, this legislation authorizes the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), in consultation with the Department of State, to adopt efficiency standards for appliances and equipment that reduce energy usage. Expanding appliance standards will reduce emissions and deliver $15 billion in savings to New Yorkers through 2035, including $6 billion to low- and moderate-income households, by reducing wasted energy from the use of less efficient everyday products and appliances.

Utility Thermal Energy Network and Jobs Act

• Legislation A.10493/S.9422 allows utilities to own, operate, and manage thermal energy networks, as well as supply distributed thermal energy, with PSC oversight. Heating and cooling networks – also referred to as community thermal or district energy systems – are a resilient, energy efficient, and clean solution that can also help New York State meet its ambitious climate goals. By leveraging multiple sources of existing waste heat (such as water, wastewater, and geothermal, among others) and connecting a diverse set of building types on a shared loop, thermal energy networks can provide significant operating and energy cost savings when compared to more traditional heating and cooling methods, while also reducing demand on the electric grid.

This legislation will promote the development of thermal energy networks throughout the State, providing benefits by reducing fossil fuel usage for heating and cooling through community-scale infrastructure solutions, along with employment opportunities for existing utility workers and new workers. The enabling legislation will build on the progress of, and complement, NYSERDA’s active community thermal program, which to-date has funded feasibility studies, detailed design studies, and other advanced project construction incentives to more than three dozen sites across the state.

Prevailing Wage for Renewable Energy Projects One Megawatt and Larger

• Legislation A.9598/S.8648 requires prevailing wage for renewable energy projects one megawatt and larger that involve the procurement of renewable energy credits from a public entity, ultimately supporting the Governor’s new goal for ten gigawatts of distributed solar by 2030, enough to annually power nearly 700,000 average-sized homes.

New York’s ten gigawatt roadmap, approved by the PSC in April, provides a comprehensive strategy to expand the state’s successful NY-Sun initiative into one of the largest distributed solar programs of its kind in the nation. The public investment to achieve ten gigawatts of solar will spur approximately $4.4 billion in private investment to bring awarded projects to fruition, for a total of $5.9 billion in expected investment over the mid- to late-2020s. 6,000 additional solar jobs will be created across the state, including with the State’s first application of prevailing wage requirements for solar projects between one and five megawatts.

NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, “New York State is addressing climate change across sectors and technologies and we are at the forefront of solutions to lower carbon emissions and increase energy efficiency while creating family-sustaining jobs across our state. These measures will provide significant energy cost savings to consumers, let them have greater access to solutions for controlling their carbon footprint, ensure jobs of the future are advanced responsibly, and support building more sustainable communities with highly efficient, modern appliances and cleaner heating and cooling solutions benefitting all New Yorkers, especially those of low-to moderate income and in disadvantaged communities.”